…And back again

I’ve actually been back in the land of ubiquitous Wi-Fi for two days now. Just now peeking my head out of a cognitive fog of jet-lag. (It’s not that I’m especially tired most of the time – I’m just disoriented, uncoordinate, and stupid. More than usual, I mean. Mess around with the circadian clock and it gets its revenge.)

Musings and recollections:

My last day in Nepal, I thought I’d pick up a wristwatch. Hadn’t bothered to bring one. So I stopped where a vendor had his blanket spread with a few dozen watches, picked one that looked about right, and asked how much. When he asked for 300, I raised an eyebrow in surprise and suggested something like 75 instead. No counter-offer: He just looked disgusted and said 300. No problem, says I, I don’t need a watch that badly. It wasn’t till I was walking away that I remembered there are sixty rupees to the dollar. His asking price was all of five bucks. Not sure what I was thinking, but 300 rupees just sounded like an awful lot of money. Ah well. Score one for the ugly American.

Followup: I had to stop by Wal-Mart yesterday. There I picked up a no-name wristwatch for five dollars. I guess Wal-Mart haggles with third-world vendors so we don’t have to.

Several times I saw t-shirts or jackets with Roman letters on them, but not spelling anything: “The Sqxjrbl of Sftpklmnstobk” or a proud logo spelling out “Wxtpyu.ough”. It’s the Asian equivalent of American fratboys getting kanji tattoos that don’t mean anything.

I learned enough of the Devanagari alphabet to be able to read out loud, and then picked up enough words to be able to start making sense of street signs, buses, and so on. More complicated text is still opaque to me as I don’t speak the language, but it’s a relief not to be completely illiterate.

And then I landed in Thailand was illiterate all over again. D’oh!

Part of the flight home was in Business Class. Amazing. Wide seats that recline aaall the way back with extending footrests – like flying in a La-Z-Boy. Delicious food served on real plates, and a very nice selection of wines. Inge, my personal in-flight masseuse, served me a marvelous elixir compounded from the tears of coach-class passengers.

Author: Father Silouan Thompson

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